Monday, July 20, 2009

Anvil Speaks!

Stop Smiling, our very favorite regular grab bag of interviews with and mash notes to cultural figures, has an interview with Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, the singer-guitarist and drummer who for more than thirty years have been the core of Anvil, the Canadian metal band who failed to fully launch into stardom after a few breaks in the early '80s, and who are now enjoying an unlikely late-career boost thanks to the movie Anvil: The Story of Anvil. The documentary, whose L.A. premiere was followed by a live performance attended by the likes of Dustin Hoffman--a sight that the guys liken to playing for the cover of Sgt. Pepper-- has inspired many a kneejerk comparison to This Is Spinal Tap, but the film itself is never mocking of its heroes, and its portrait of a lifelong friendship between two family men whose shared devotion to their music has sometimes been tempered by a fear that they're wasting each other's lives produces as many touching moments as it does comic ones. A labor of love, the movie was made by screenwriter Sacha Gervasi (The Terminal), who, having known the band members when he was sixteen, plowed his Hollywood riches into the movie.

"He came to us with the project," Reiner says of Gervasi. "He came back into our lives and tossed out the idea of making a movie. He became a film guy and we didn’t know that until we reconnected with him. Our story of never giving up and rocking out all these years inspired the hell out of him, and compelled him to make the movie," adding, "We gave him full access because we trusted him, you know? He was a friend."
Says Lipps, "All that he wanted to do was bring some justice to where he felt there had been an incredible amount of injustice, and he thought that on a number of levels this needed to happen. From his perspective, he thought that we should have made it a long time ago, because he felt that everybody had ripped us off. Then he discovered that was actually the case, particularly by looking at it in retrospect. When he went to go shoot people to find out how they felt about Anvil, there were virtually lineups. See, we were an obscure band that all the other bands listened to, and it’s just one of those kinds of things — just one of those anomalies that happened in the heavy metal genre. With us and bands like Captain Beyond, these are the underground sensations that stayed quiet to the mass public, though were the biggest things since sliced bread to the musicians they inspired. We come from that underground world. From Sacha’s perspective it shouldn’t have been that way. So he did something about it. And what’s great about all this is that we stayed underground and never sold out. At the end of the day, what the movie has done is create a testament to sticking to your guns and making it on your own terms." The guys are understandably wary about where their raised profile might lead now, though Lipps can volunteer this much about his drummer: "he probably wants to get the hell out of Canada." Reiner confirms this: "Yeah, it’s long overdue for Robb-o. I need to relocate. Who knows where the Promised Land is? It’s just not here."

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